Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Digital research fellowships at US cultural institutions

Apply for funding to develop digital research at US cultural institutions.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for AHRC funding. Cultural institution staff are particularly encouraged.

You will be required to travel to the US and work from the host institution.

We welcome proposals:

  • using digital methods to work with cultural institutions
  • developing digital methods and their applications in cultural institutions
  • with interdisciplinary work, especially computational and engineering disciplines.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £150,000. AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Your project duration can be between six to 12 months.

Who can apply

You are eligible to apply if you:

  • are actively engaged in research at a postdoctoral level and beyond
  • have either a doctorate or can show that you have equivalent research experience or training
  • have the level of skills, knowledge and experience appropriate for your proposed project
  • are a member of a recognised research organisation or have an offer of support (including use of facilities) from a recognised research organisation.

Eligible organisations include:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations (IROs).

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Cultural institution staff and early-career researchers are particularly encouraged to apply.

Read AHRC’s research funding guide for further information on eligibility.

What we're looking for

This funding opportunity is to work with the Library of Congress and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) collections, tools, expertise and projects. The fellowships should be research-based, advancing digital scholarship methods to benefit both the work and collections of the Library of Congress, GCI and cultural institutions in the UK through collaboration with Library of Congress and GCI research communities.

Fellowships should be of six to 12 months’ duration, with the expectation that some initial and concluding research may be conducted remotely. However, the bulk of the activity will be undertaken in residence at the Library of Congress or GCI.

We welcome proposals that focus on areas such as:

  • machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • digitally enabled participation
  • developing enhanced information on cultural institution visitors
  • automatic creation and interrogation of all document types
  • unlocking new data.

All proposals must be within AHRC remit.

We welcome proposals that aim to:

  • deliver a potentially transformational impact on digital scholarship for cultural institutions through use of Library of Congress and GCI collections, tools and expertise
  • support the development and application of innovative digital methods and tools that are of mutual benefit to the Library of Congress, GCI and institutions in the UK
  • establish new links between collections in the US and UK
  • build new digital scholarship networks between researchers and cultural institution professionals in the UK and US, enhancing knowledge exchange and best practice
  • contribute to leadership and skills development in digital scholarship for cultural institutions
  • generate outputs such as new tools and techniques, digitised collections and resources, articles and journals, and training materials
  • demonstrate plans for sustainability beyond the period of the fellowship
  • increase awareness of the impact and value of digital scholarship through outreach and dissemination activity.

Successful applications will be well aligned both with AHRC’s remit and with an area of interest or mission at the Library of Congress or GCI.

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI)

Current areas of interest and ongoing projects at GCI include, but are not limited to:

The GCI is looking to explore recent advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (and other digital methods) to advance conservation practice in its broadest sense. Such practice might involve:

  • the technical study of cultural objects to determine their chemical make-up or condition
  • the characterisation of broad groups of materials that are commonly used in moveable or built heritage.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • the analysis of large data sets obtained from environmental data or the characterisation of heritage objects or sites, to determine trends and relationships, and to employ in epidemiological studies
  • the improvement of visualisation of data or of conservation treatments, such as the reassembly of fragments from cultural objects or sites
  • the development of remote sensing methods for less accessible collections or archaeological sites.

GCI works internationally with partners around the world, therefore involvement in certain projects might necessitate you to travel to international sites, including Brazil, Italy and Poland.

The Library of Congress

Fellows hosted by the Library of Congress will be based at the Kluge Center and applicants may propose research within any of the collections available at the Kluge Center, connecting to projects coordinated by the LC Labs team as appropriate. Through experimentation, research, and collaboration, LC Labs works to realise the library’s vision that ‘all Americans are connected to the Library of Congress’ by enabling the library’s digital strategy.

LC Labs:

  • is home to the Library of Congress Innovator in Residence programme
  • has nurtured experiments in machine learning and the use of collections as data
  • incubated the library’s popular crowdsourced transcription programme By the People.

Current areas of interest and ongoing projects at LC Labs include:

  • understanding the needs of digital users, especially communities of colour, and the types of programmes, outreach, data and services that are relevant to their needs
  • surfacing connections between collections that provide benefits to users
  • creating data generated visualisations, infographic or other creative or analytical views of collections that connect to specific user groups or needs
  • enriching metadata with machine generated data to serve specific user groups or needs
  • combining machine generated data with crowdsourced data or programmes to serve specific user groups or needs
  • understanding user needs around library, archive and museum data use and reuse.

Eligible costs

We will cover the following:

  • salary costs: this can cover the time spent at the host institution, as well as any research undertaken at your home organisation in the UK where applicable; because this is a fellowship opportunity, all salary costs will be categorised in the ‘directly incurred’ fund heading
  • international travel costs: we recommend that the number of trips between the US and the UK is kept to a minimum, for reasons of sustainability and value for money
  • living expenses: reasonable costs associated with spending time at the host institution.
  • domestic travel: to conduct associated work in the UK or US
  • outreach and engagement: including workshops, seminars and any other engagement activity
  • research costs: note that the cost of using equipment at the Library of Congress or GCI should normally be provided by the host institute, and as such should not be included in the AHRC budget. See ‘Justification of Resources’ below for further details. Ordinary equipment such as laptops should be provided by your home research organisation in the UK.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in the:

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

We recommend you start your application early.

When applying, select ‘new document’, then:

  • council: AHRC
  • form: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: AHRC / fellowship proposal / AHRC fellowships
  • call/type/mode:
    • AHRC Library of Congress Digital Fellowship 01 September 2022
    • AHRC Getty Conservation Institute Digital Fellowship 01 September 2022

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You must enter either the Library of Congress or the Getty Conservation Institute (as appropriate) as a project partner in the Je-S form, with a listed contribution of £1. No project partner letter of support is required.

All overseas costs incurred by non-UK organisations must be entered as ‘other directly incurred’ costs following the format given in the AHRC’s research funding guide under ‘proposals with an international element’.

By submitting an application for this opportunity, you consent to your application being shared with your chosen host institute (the Library of Congress or the Getty Conservation Institute) and stored in accordance with their institutional data privacy policies, for the purposes of processing and assessment.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

AHRC must receive your application by 1 September at 16:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

You should apply for only one of the two opportunities.

Fellowships must start by 1 February 2023, unless exceptional circumstances apply, for example on equality, diversity and inclusion grounds. It is anticipated that the duration of the fellowship will include a period of preparatory research before taking up residence at the host institution.

Attachments

Case for support

This is a mandatory attachment and must be six sides of A4.

The case for support is the body of your fellowship proposal. You should structure your case for support using the following headings.

Summary of the proposed fellowship

You should provide a clear and concise description of the activities to be undertaken during the fellowship. You should also explain how the proposed activities will support the aims and objectives of the host institution and be of benefit to cultural institutions in the UK.

Aims and objectives

You should describe the aims and objectives of the activities. What specific targets or outcomes will you have achieved by the end of the fellowship?

Outputs

You should describe the anticipated outputs from your fellowship. For example:

  • publications
  • tools
  • techniques
  • digitised collections
  • training materials.
Methodology and approach

You should provide an explanation of the scoping, analysis and wider engagement work to be undertaken, including a clear explanation of the methodologies to be used and why and how these would enable you to conduct the research.

Timetable of activities

You should give a clear timetable of activities, including engagement work.

Management and co-ordination

You should outline how the fellow would meet the needs of the proposed work and ensure it could be completed in time.

Please refer to the assessment criteria when writing the case for support.

CV

This is a mandatory attachment and must be a maximum of two sides of A4.

A summary CV should be attached as a separate document.

It should be tailored to the aims of the scheme, and outline any selected outputs, publications or engagement activity relevant to the fellowship.

Justification of resources

This is a mandatory attachment and must be two sides of A4.

This statement should be used to justify the resources required to undertake the project.

Any research costs incurred at the GCI or the Library of Congress are to be provided in-kind by the host, and as such should not be costed in the application to AHRC. However, please give an indication of what resources you expect to require from the host (GCI or Library of Congress).

You should:

  • explain why the indicated resources are needed, taking account of the nature and complexity of the activity proposed. It is not sufficient merely to list what is required
  • have regard for the breakdown of resources into the summary fund headings ‘directly incurred’, ‘directly allocated’ and (where appropriate) ‘exceptions’
  • in some cases, such as investigator time, use of internal facilities and shared staff costs, the basis of the costing need not be justified, but the need for the resources does need justification
  • try to be explicit about the need for the level of investigator time sought
  • include a clear and detailed justification for both why items expected to be found in a department are required for the project and why they cannot be provided from the research organisation or host institution’s own resources (including funding from indirect costs).

Data management plan

This is a mandatory attachment and must be a maximum of two sides of A4.

The data management plan should outline the project’s approach to managing data.

You should:

  • briefly introduce the types of data the fellowship will create. Why did you decide to use these data types?
  • give details on the proposed methodologies that will be used to create the data.
  • explain how the data will be stored in the short term
  • detail what backup you will have in the in-project period to ensure no data is lost
  • explain how the data will be stored in the long term
  • explain where you have decided to store data and why this is appropriate
  • outline how long will it be stored for and why
  • outline the costs of storage, and why these costs are appropriate
  • detail how the data will be shared and the value it will have for others
  • explain how the data will enhance the area and how it could be used in the future.

Work plan

This attachment must be a maximum of one side of A4.

A work plan attachment must be included to:

  • outline your timetable for the project (both research and leadership activities)
  • indicate the work to be undertaken in each month of the award.

The work plan should clearly outline your time commitment for each phase of the fellowship.

Head of department statement

This attachment must be a maximum of two sides of A4.

The head of department statement must include the following information:

  • what the fellow is bringing to the project and why they are best placed to conduct the research
  • how they will deliver the project’s objectives
  • how their institution will support them during the lifetime of the project
  • assurances that their contract will be in place for the duration of the project.

How we will assess your application

Review process

Applications will be assessed by two separate panels, one for each host institution. Each panel will be comprised of:

  • members of the AHRC peer review college
  • expert staff members from the host institution, either the Library of Congress or the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI).

The panels will recommend two ranked lists of proposals to AHRC’s senior management, who will make a final decision based on available funding and the distribution of assessment scores across the two sets of applications.

Your application will be shared with your selected host institute (Library of Congress or GCI) for reviewing and processing purposes.

Assessment criteria

Significance

To what extent will the proposed activity advance digital scholarship for cultural institutions through use of the host’s collections, tools, expertise and projects?

To what extent will this project benefit humanities scholars and cultural institution professionals?

Does the applicant make a clear case for how they will make use of and benefit collections, tools or materials at the host institution?

Does the applicant clearly outline the current state of the field and explain how the project will build on this?

Where appropriate, does the project’s thematic focus address issues relating to representation, equality and inclusivity?

Is the proposed research timely?

Outputs

Does the proposal make an evidenced case for how it will add value to existing scholarly knowledge and make an original and innovative contribution?

How might the project generate new findings, tools or products relevant to larger questions in the humanities?

Will outputs be sustainable beyond the project’s duration?

Responsiveness

How clear are the goals and research questions of the project and how well do they respond to the overarching aims of the host institution?

To what extent will the proposed activities generate fruitful, innovative and novel interactions across disciplines, institutions, and borders?

How responsive is the application to the needs of the target audiences?

Methods and execution

Is the project’s methodology clearly described, and does it appear to be appropriate for the research questions or problems the applicant intends to address?

Are the methodologies appropriate for work at the host institution?

Does the applicant consider ethical issues relevant to the proposed project, including equal access, bias, and impacts on marginalised people?

Work plan

Are the project tasks and milestones clearly laid out and well structured?

Are the timelines for completing activities and outputs reasonable?

Is there a discussion of potential risks and risk mitigation strategies?

Is a robust data management plan in place?

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

We recommend that you contact the Library of Congress or Getty Conservation Institute in advance of submitting your application, to discuss the suitability of your project.

Library of Congress

Email: lc-labs@loc.gov

Include ‘AHRC visiting fellowships’ in the subject line.

Getty Conservation Institute

Email: gcipostdoc@getty.edu

Include ‘AHRC visiting fellowships’ in the subject line.

Programme and partnerships

Email: fic@ahrc.ukri.org

Include ‘US digital fellowships’ in the subject line.

Application process and AHRC policy

Email: enquiries@ahrc.ukri.org

Include ‘US digital fellowships’ in the subject line.

Additional info

This opportunity is part of the AHRC’s UK-US digital scholarship in cultural institutions scheme, funded through UKRI’s fund for international collaboration.

It builds on the success of two new directions for digital scholarship in cultural institutions research grant opportunities in 2020 and 2021, jointly funded with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This is in addition to two previous funding opportunities to facilitate partnership development activities between cultural institutions and universities in the UK and US run by AHRC.

It also builds upon a workshop held in Washington, DC in September 2019, co-convened by AHRC and NEH, along with:

  • the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • the US National Science Foundation
  • the Smithsonian Institution
  • the Library of Congress.

Supporting documents

AHRC’s research funding guide

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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